Here’s how a couple guys at the Wall Street Journal are reporting the campaigns are seeing the battlegrounds:
Battlefield Appears to Narrow
For Presidential Race
By GREG HITT and JACOB M. SCHLESINGER
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 15, 2004; Page A4
LAS VEGAS – The presidential campaign battleground is narrowing to about 10 states in the final weeks before Election Day, as the rival campaigns make tough choices about where to target resources.
Florida and Ohio are the most closely fought states. But President Bush appears to be less optimistic about capturing Michigan and New Hampshire, while Sen. John Kerry is scaling back in Missouri, West Virginia and Arizona. In the past week, the senator canceled plans to visit West Virginia this weekend.
Still, the endgame plans include surprises. Mr. Bush is making a play for heavily Democratic New Jersey – dominated by terrorism fears – and planning a visit there Monday. Aides say he retains hope of stealing Democratic-leaning Oregon, where he campaigned late yesterday.
Mr. Kerry, who spoke here yesterday to AARP, the senior citizens’ lobby, hopes to focus his final two weeks of campaigning on pocketbook issues. He feels confident that his recent emphasis on Iraq has burnished his credentials on national security and undercut the president’s credibility.
Across town, Mr. Bush rallied supporters on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, kicking off a cross-country tour by Republican governors aimed at boosting excitement among grassroots supporters. He is weighing a stretch run that will focus heavily on discrediting Mr. Kerry, portraying him as weak on terrorism and out of touch with mainstream America. While Mr. Kerry is emphasizing economics, Mr. Bush will highlight differences with the senator on the economy and terrorism.
Sources said the Bush campaign is developing television ads to raise anti-Kerry rhetoric even further. One potential development that could benefit Mr. Bush is the airing of a videotape of Mr. Kerry telling a collection of Hollywood entertainers that they represent the “heart and soul of our country.” Those images would likely fire up the conservatives Mr. Bush needs to come out in droves. A top Republican close to the campaign suggested the tape, long sought by Bush aides, is likely to “magically leak out” just ahead of the election.
In the next few days, Bush and Kerry aides plan to sift national and state polls to choose where to focus ads and where to send the candidates. “The most important polls are the ones done a couple of days after the last debate,” says a Kerry adviser. “People are making up their minds.” He said the surveys that come out over the weekend and early next week “will likely be the same as the election.”
Six months ago, both campaigns described a battleground across the country of perhaps 20 states. Now the field has narrowed considerably, and will continue to do so in the coming days.
In the industrial Midwest, Ohio, which went closely for Mr. Bush over Democrat Al Gore in 2000, remains the big prize. Bush aides have discussed pulling back in Michigan, and Kerry aides are increasingly confident of keeping Pennsylvania in the Democratic column. They have given up on Missouri and are playing down West Virginia.
Mr. Bush’s best chance of picking up states from 2000 may be in the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Iowa. Kerry aides, once fearful of losing Minnesota, are now more confident there. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman insists the battleground still looks favorable for the president. “We’re playing in their territory,” he says.
In the West, Mr. Bush travels to Oregon this week, but Kerry aides insist they are far ahead there and in Washington state, where Mr. Bush had once pushed hard. But the three mountain states of New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada are all tight – the first lost by Mr. Bush in 2000, the latter two won by him. Mr. Kerry may spend time in that region in the next two weeks.
Write to Greg Hitt at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jacob M. Schlesinger at email@example.com
Also, here’s the today’s campaign-stop schedule, which is usually fairly indicative – I wish I could see how the campaigns are spending money on ad-buys in various markets…
Interestingly, it’s mostly 2000 “Blue” states…